Friday, September 5, 2008

Disaster Response Update 9-5-08

Disaster Response Update 9-5-2008


There were no reported direct-impact deaths and limited injuries!
The post-Gustav assessment is almost complete. Although most of the state was impacted, there are areas of continuing need. Southwest Mississippi had a good impact with tons of fallen trees, debris, and flooding. The Mississippi Gulf Coast also sustained wind and water damage.

Seashore District

Reports from the Seashore District Coordinator, David Cumbest, indicate that while there is impact, most are very gratified that it did not approach the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Debris and flooding issues were evident and most notable in Hancock County. A team from within our conference responded at the request of the Seashore District.

Brookhaven District

Washington UMC in Brookhaven District, pastored by Rev. Ron Smith, sustained some damage to the roof of the parsonage resulting in leakage that has made one of the bedroom uninhabitable. The house is still intact and livable. Rev. Smith and his family are still there and thankful.

Greenwood District

Reports are still coming in about the flooding in Greenville which occurred Wednesday night. It looks like several homes were impacted. Gary Howse, Greenwood District Disaster Relief Coordinator, and District Superintendent Vicki White are working closely with assessment.


Several post-landfall/initial impact tornadoes and winds impacted areas all over the state. Many structures and roadways were impacted throughout the state. Most power is back on, but there are some pockets still without.

We continue to remain vigilant with our coordination of resources and volunteers.


Hanna still tracks up the Eastern coastline of the US. Please continue to pray for those preparing for potential impact and those who will respond. Those living in affected areas certainly are in need of prayer, grace, and generosity.

3) IKE

This is the update from the National Weather Service in Jackson several minutes ago:
Hurricane Ike will be moving west-southwest over the weekend, and approaching the Bahamas by Sunday. It is currently undergoing some shear which is expected to weaken it somewhat in the next 24 hours, but it is forecast to remain a potent hurricane. The official NHC forecast and the computer models have been gradually shifting southwest with the forecast track over the last couple of days. Ike is now forecast to make landfall over south Florida as a major hurricane late Tuesday, but it is important to recognize that there is a large cone of uncertainty at 4-5 days. Several computer models are now taking Ike into the Gulf of Mexico about 5 days from now, but again there is lots of uncertainty at that time range. We will continue to monitor the progress of Ike and provide periodic updates.



-Provide donations sent to the conference office earmarked for “Mississippi Hurricane Relief.”

-Make flood buckets. We have new Relief Kit coordinators who are Rex and Brenda Hiatt. Any information or questions about flood buckets or kits should go to them: 601-917-7094;

-Develop creative ways for your church to be a mission (e.g. become a donations collection point, distribution center, make flood buckets or other relief kits, volunteer to staff call lines, offer transportation or other resources, etc.) Communicate same to your District Coordinator.

-Stay in close contact with your District Disaster Relief Coordinator.

-Record and send us your stories. There are countless stories of courage, gratitude, resourcefulness, and generosity – to name a few. Please keep of track of them and get them to us!

-Always be prepared. Disaster preparedness saves lives and property.
Thank you for your ministry.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Assessments...

After a preliminary assessment and site visit, some developing and ongoing needs are coming to light. The conference disaster response coordinator, C. J. Caufield, accompanied several of the conference staff (list names however it seems best) as they visited Jefferson Street UMC in Natchez, Washington United Methodist Church, and Camp Wesley Pines to check in.

In Mississippi, the Gulf Coast was impacted by Gustav and most folks are relieved that they did not have to relive the impact of Katrina. However, although there are not as many impacted, losses exist. An ERT was requested by the Seashore District to help with clean-up at Gulfside Assembly and will be deployed Friday. Rev. Robert McCoy is serving as the disaster volunteer coordinator.

The parsonage of the Washington UMC, served by Rev. Ron Smith, was damaged. Many shingles were torn off the roof exposing the bare roof and allowing significant water to enter. Currently, the damage is limited to one room with some seepage into another. They were expecting power back on Wednesday evening.

Further to the northwest, there is more significant impact. Southwest Mississippi has continuing power outages, lots of water, and some merging needs. We will keep those updated and you can also get information from the call center at the conference office (info).

We are also in regular contact with our church family in Louisiana to monitor their developing needs. They are still working on assessments.

We are also in regular contact with our partner denominations and organizations to provide quick and practical resources where and when they are needed. This is working fairly well so far.

How you can help:


-Donate $ (details)

-Share your resources: Brenda Hiatt is the one keeping track of resources and needs and developing the links to fill those requests.

-Make flood buckets or other relief kits (http://new.gbgm

-Continue preparedness in your home and church!

-Discuss ways in which your church would like to be involved in this and future disasters and share that with your district coordinator.

Please monitor the website and call the call center for updates of needs.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Gustav Update 9-3-2008

Email Update September 2, 2008

As Hurricane Gustav continues its track inland, the Conference Disaster Response Ministry is in full swing. From the Mississippi Conference headquarters and district offices to local churches and neighborhoods, the remnants of Gustav are alive and well. Bad weather is predicted to impact much of the state through Wednesday night.

Churches and pastors are calling the conference office to report their status. Our district coordinators are working to assess the damage in their areas.

By most reports, the damage is much more limited than with Katrina. Of course, by Thursday, we will have more information.

We are also working with our brothers and sisters in Louisiana as they assess and share needs. Currently, we are looking for folks to receive ERT training to help in those areas hardest hit. We will make information available as we receive it.

•The Conference Call Center can be reached at 601-354-0515 or 866-647-7486 (MISS4UM)

How You Can Help

• Pray

• Give monetary contributions to the response efforts earmarked for “Mississippi Hurricane Response”. Send to the Mississippi Annual Conference, Mississippi Gustav Response, P.O. Box 1201, Jackson, MS 39205

• Volunteers should contact Robert McCoy at 662-213-6400

• Donations and resources should contact Brenda Hiatt at or 601-917-7094 or Rex Hiatt at or 601-917-9201.

• If you want to set up a collection point for donations, contact Roger Shock at 662-397-2626.

Water, Water, Everywhere!

Although you have worked so graciously over the last months collecting them, we can still use flood buckets. They are a very popular and practical item.

Contact: Brenda Hiatt at or 601-917-7094. Thank you for your gracious spirit and loving care.

Telling the Story

Currently, we have a special blog entitled, “MS Voices of Hope”, for telling the stories of hope, response and relief. We encourage you to access the blog at the conference website ( or by going to

Also, you may share your story with one of our Public Information Contacts. They are:

Lisa Michiels, Seashore District, 228-436-0058 (H) or 228-424-8689 (M)
Trudy Cessna, Hattiesburg District, 601-794-5555 (H) or 601-310-3776 (M)
Judy Sibley, Brookhaven District, 601-814-0222

Thank you for your continued support.
Blessings and peace,
The Mississippi Annual Conference

Monday, September 1, 2008

Moving Forward... Together

Dear friends in the MS Conference, On this first day of the new quadrennium, Mike and I give thanks for our assignment back to MS.

You are all in our prayers as we continue forward together. As Hurricane Gustav moves northwest, rain and wind continues to threaten our communities.

We continue pray for your safety and for the safety of our friends in Louisiana and the other states impacted.

Our leaders in disaster preparedness and disaster response and recovery have done an excellent job in recent weeks.

We are deeply grateful to each of them for their faithful work. As we survey damage in our state, we will respond with the prayers, skill and generosity of the entire connection of United Methodist people.

I hope you will use this blog to share your stories and your insights. I plan to check it daily and to offer thoughts as we move forward.

Blessings to you all, Hope

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hearing from You... Praying with You

The following blog is dedicated to stories of hope, need and possibilities as we deal with crisis response in relation to the hurricanes. Please share your stories from your local churches and communities. We look forward to hearing from you.